What is Pulmonary Embolism?

Pulmonary embolism is a serious condition that occurs when a blood clot blocks one of the arteries in your lungs. This can cause low oxygen levels in your blood and may lead to death. Pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency and needs to be treated right away.

What causes Pulmonary Embolism?

Blood clots can form in your veins for many reasons, such as:

– sitting or lying down for long periods of time (immobility)

– surgery

– cancer

– taking birth control pills

– pregnancy

– smoking

These clots can travel to your lungs and block the arteries. Pulmonary embolism is more common in people who have certain medical conditions, such as:

– heart disease

– stroke

– lung disease

– cancer

– blood disorders

What are the symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism?

The most common symptom of pulmonary embolism is shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include:

– chest pain or discomfort that gets worse with deep breathing

– rapid heartbeat

– coughing up blood

– sweating

– anxiety or panic attacks

– lightheadedness or fainting

Pulmonary embolism can be deadly.

How is Pulmonary Embolism diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms. They will also do a physical exam. Pulmonary embolism is often diagnosed with tests, such as:

– chest x-ray

– computed tomography (CT) scan

– ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) scan

– pulmonary angiogram

These tests can show if you have a blood clot in your lungs.

How is Pulmonary Embolism treated?

Pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency. It needs to be treated right away to prevent death. Treatment may include:

– anticoagulants (blood thinners) to prevent new clots from forming

– thrombolytics (clot-busting drugs) to dissolve the clot

– surgery to remove the clot

You may also need oxygen therapy and pain medicine. Pulmonary embolism can be deadly. But, with treatment, most people recover.

If you have Pulmonary Embolism it is important to:

– Take your medicine as prescribed.

– Get up and move around as soon as your doctor says it is okay. This helps prevent new clots from forming.

– Wear special stockings (compression stockings) that help blood flow in your legs.

– Do not smoke.

– Do not sit or stand for long periods of time.

– Do not take birth control pills. Talk to your doctor about other forms of birth control.

– Ask your doctor when you can travel. Flying increases the risk of Pulmonary Embolism . If you must fly, wear special stockings and move around often during the flight.